By on October 20, 2013

Some time ago, TTAC published a guest post on the topic of driving under the influence of cannabis that more or less discounted the dangers of puffing while puttering around, at least for experienced potheads. Needless to say that post provoked some heated discussion. Now that Colorado has legalized marijuana for general use, the legislature there has decided that it was necessary to officially define “too high to drive”. It’s not clear if the reason was traffic safety or revenue since instead of using a behavioral standard for impairment, the new law creates an arbitrary blood level of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, that would define a driver as illegally impaired, whether or not they were measurably impaired in their driving. Critics of the way impaired driving is enforced already say that the drive to lower legal blood alcohol content limits was intended to catch people who weren’t actually impaired, driving safely but drunk according to the law, a classic case of malum prohibitum rather than malum in se. Setting an arbitrary limit for THC would allow DUID, driving under the influence of drugs, to join DUI as a cash cow for city, county and state governments.

The new law in Colorado allows juries to convict someone of DUID if blood tests show a THC level of at least 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. That level is the same as enacted in Washington following that state’s marijuana legalization initiative. It’s not entirely clear why the five nanogram limit was chosen. While some novice pot smokers may actually be impaired enough to affect their driving with 5ng/mL of THC in their blood, Reason, the libertarian publication, reports that many drivers are perfectly competent at many times that level of cannabinoids in their system.

One reason for establishing some kind of limit, as opposed to zero tolerance, is that in Washington and Colorado marijuana is no longer illegal for regular use. If a drug is illegal, any use should put you in a jackpot if you’re nabbed driving with it in your system. If it’s legal to use marijuana, however, the state has no compelling interest to prosecute drivers who do have some level of THC in their systems but aren’t actually impaired. KIRO, the CBS television affiliate in Seattle, decided to test both medical marijuana users and recreational pot smokers to see just how much pot they could smoke before being impaired.

Addy Norton is a 27-year-old woman who smokes medical marijuana every day. When she arrived at the KIRO test, she was already legally impaired per Washington state law, 16 ng/mL, more than three times the legal limit. According to the professional driving instructor who rode along (with a foot over the dual control brakes), she completed the baseline test on a driving course satisfactorily, though way over the legal THC limit. Then they proceeded to get Addy really high. After smoking 3/10 of a gram (% THC wasn’t specified but medical marijuana is typically over 20% THC), she tested at 36.7 ng/mL. At over 7 times the legal limit her driving was still not impaired. Smoking another 6/10ths of a gram only put her at “borderline” impairment, according to a drug recognition expert from the Thurston County, Washington Sheriff’s Office. To find out how much 0.9 gm of medical marijuana is, I checked with one of my own experts on marijuana, let’s call him Sativa Bongstein. Bongstein said that while he never measured how many joints he gets out of an eighth of an ounce of medical marijuana, an eighth will keep him continuously high for most of his waking hours over two days. So yeah, smoking about a fourth of that, almost a gram of medical marijuana, in one sitting should get you pretty high, however, according to the tests, it may barely impair your driving. It was only after Norton smoked a total of 1.4 grams and reached a THC titer of 58.8 ng/mL, more than eleven times the legal 5 nanogram limit, that she clearly failed the driving test.

The test results were reproduced by KIRO with people who used marijuana less frequently than Addy but still drove without noticeable impairment at levels far above the 5 nanogram limit. KDVR, a Fox affiliate in Denver, performed similar tests with a medical marijuana user who arrived with a 21 nanogram THC level, though he hadn’t yet smoked anything that day. Not only did he pass his driving test on a simulator as stoned as he likely already was when he walked in the door, raising his level to 47 ng/mL did not impair his simulated driving either. A drug recognition expert from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said his driving was fine. “[He] is doing pretty well,” the police officer said as he watched the driver being tested at the higher THC level, more than 9 times the legal limit. “He’s being a safe driver. It’s doubtful that I would have pulled him over. He hasn’t shown any degree of impairment.”

While some people may indeed be impaired at 5 ng/mL, the tests show that obviously some people are not. There is some habituation and tolerance involved so regular pot smokers might learn to adapt and drive at a THC level that would impair novice users of marijuana.

THC is stored in fatty tissue so it can remain in the blood system of regular users long after the effects of the drug have worn off. Even someone who hasn’t smoked marijuana in years can test above 0.0 ng/mL and daily smokers may never fall below the 5 ng legal limit.

The Colorado General Assembly rejected the current standard five times, aware of the fact that it was an arbitrary standard and not a good indicator of impairment, but it finally passed the same week that the legislature passed a law regulating retail marijuana stores.

Though police still need “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over and request a blood test, that could mean seeing you with a hand rolled cigarette in your hand, not necessarily driving in an impaired manner. Once cited, the chances of being acquitted seem to be slim. While Colorado’s new law does not make people automatically guilty of driving under the influence of drugs if they are measured to be at or above the 5 ng limit, it still creates a presumption of impairment. Defendants can attempt to rebut the presumption, but Denver defense attorney Rob Corry, who specializes in DUID cases, says that in reality, with a “permissible inference” of impairment at 5 ng, of DUID if they test above that level. Instead it creates a presumption that defendants can try to rebut by presenting evidence that they were not in fact impaired. But Denver attorney Rob Corry, who frequently represents DUID defendants, thinks that opportunity will not make much difference in practice. With a “permissible inference” of DUID at five nanograms, he says, “A person coming into court is guilty until proven innocent. If you put a number on it, juries are going to latch onto that five-nanogram number, whether it’s a permissible inference or a per se [standard], and the effect will be that innocent people are convicted.”

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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81 Comments on “Driving While Stoned (Slight Return). Nine Times the Legal Limit, Cop: “It’s Doubtful That I Would Have Pulled Him Over”...”


  • avatar
    jz78817

    ISTR Car & Driver did an impromptu test of this back in the 1970s (at some risk) directly comparing the effects of alcohol and MJ on a driver. As I recall their observations were that the two were very dissimilar. Where alcohol slows down your reaction time and messes with coordination, MJ didn’t. However, they saw that MJ seemed to make a driver more prone to distraction.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      Maybe a way to defeat this ridiculous test level is to demand a sobriety test when stopped. If you can pass the tests the police officer gives you and this is on tape, how are you a danger on the road? (I have been stopped and tested.) I did the walk, balance and number test at a road block south of Buffalo, New York. I passed. I suspect the police were just trolling for traffic violations. (I had not been drinking or smoking before driving.)

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      I remember both articles, the one about alcohol about 1978 (they used a Ford Fairmont as a test car), and the one about marijuana about 1979 or 1980 (a Chevrolet Citation). The alcohol test, it seems in retrospect, was flawed in its calibration; before two of the three test drivers were even close to the 0.1 BAL limit, they weren’t able to even walk from the building to the car, open the car door, sit in the car, etc. The marijuana test had a problem, also, with calibration: where alcoholic beverages usually have a “proof” guide to how much alcohol is in a typical serving, the amount of active ingredient in off-the-street marijuana is unknown. Also, unlike alcohol–where 0.1% blood alcohol level is considered legally impaired–ANY marijuana was then illegal, so there was no threshold for “legally high,” The results were different as well: one stated that, unlike alcohol, where someone would be unable to perceive less of what they needed to know while driving because of how impaired they are, with mairjuana they would perceive much more–how wonderfully blue the sky is, the texture of the pavement, etc. The problem is that the brain is not able to process that information efficiently–and while gazing at the blue sky, might not see the semi cutting in their lane directly in front of them.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    such limits (like as well the alcohol limits) also have tot ake into account people that are not used to doing drugs/drinking and are more impaired than someone who drinks/smokes daily. I’m all for legalizing weed, as long as the pothead doesn’t endanger me. When driving on a public road, they are endangering me as drunk drivers do and should be prosecuted.

    This just shows that people never can be happy. Potheads fought long for legal pot. Now they have that and also want to drive high. Don’t get greedy… do it like alcoholics, when you drink/smoke a lot use a cab.

    And if a daily smoker never falls below the legal 5ng/ml… maybe that person should smoke less or don’t drive. If I drink alcohol daily I’m not allowed to drive either.

    Again, I’m for legalizing pot (and alcohol). But abuse of either shoudl not result in innocent people dying. if you smoke daily (or dring daily large amounts), you lose your right to drive – rightfully so.

    Here in WI there wee so many heroin accidents recently, many with deaths of not the person who OD’d while driving. If they want to OD (and die) at home – fine by me. But not on a road wher eI’m driving with my kids, or on a road my daughter is crossing or riding her bicycle on…

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Strawman much? The entire point of this test was to measure whether weed causes bad and dangerous driving, the unambiguous conclusion is that reasonable levels don’t, and you bring in nonsense about heroin users ODing on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        This article leaned towards allowing higher limits of THC (and I don’t understand why TTAC is on the side of potheads…).

        You do realize that when people pass out drinking alcohol or smoking weed while driving the consequences woudl be the same as OD’d on heroin? If the driver passes out, regardless how, the car can kill people. Except if it is heroin, it would be in the newspaper, if it is alcohol or weed we (unfortuantely) already got used to it.

        • 0 avatar

          The article didn’t lean towards allowing higher limits. My position is that being prosecuted for the crime of impaired driving should be based on actual impairment, not an arbitrary ng/mL standard.

          If they are driving safely, they are necessarily not impaired. That’s plain logic.

          Impaired = driving in an unsafe manner
          Driving safely = not impaired

          If that means that some people will get away driving with a BAC of .20, I guess that’s what it means. If they are driving safely, why accuse them of a crime?

          Also, as a point of information, people don’t pass out from THC like they do from ethyl alcohol. They may get a bit tired if it’s a high Indica blend but, no, nobody smokes a joint and then falls asleep.

          Since you brought up the topic of opiates, though, there are lots of medicines that are labeled “do not drive or operate machinery”? Are you going to insist on a zero tolerance level when it comes to medicinal drugs or use actual driving impairment as your standard?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I agree with this. Actual danger to the public ought to be the limit in cases of impairment. Conducting a simple field sobriety test is easier than doing a blood test.

            But I guess that wouldn’t be “fair” to the lightweights.

            To me, this particular rule seems like a feeble attempt to appease teetotalers.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “nobody smokes a joint and then falls asleep”

            Ironic that your next paragraph mentions opiates because I guarantee that an opiated joint would bring the sandman and very quickly.

            And when you woke up you would find a no-brain task like filling a glass with tap water uniquely challenging.

            Maybe that stuff’s not around anymore but I can’t imagine that today’s weed is unadulterated with things even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      The potheads are already out there, and they’re not endangering you at all. Obviously alcohol is bad, and I can’t imagine heroin isn’t even worse. But weed has a much different effect.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Addy and her medical marijuana my ***. She’s shiftless, and I doubt that’s the first time.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I couldn’t watch the video, is the car an automatic or do you just mean she stayed in 1st gear the whole time?

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        bro’s saying “lying b—h doesn’t actually need MMJ.”

        which- to me- is stupid. It’s not like the stuff should be illegal anyway. It was criminalized under false pretenses in the first place, so why should I care if the initial steps to decriminalization are on shaky ground?

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          Yes, that whole “rule of law” thing is such a boring old pain. Better just to make everything you like legal and everything you don’t illegal.

          A quick thought experiment: imagine something illegal yet not uncommon that you don’t approve of. Now, imagine it’s beginning to be decriminalized, but the first steps to do so are on similarly shaky ground. Do you care?

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            “Yes, that whole “rule of law” thing is such a boring old pain. Better just to make everything you like legal and everything you don’t illegal.”

            “Legal” and “illegal” don’t necessarily correlate to “right” and “wrong.” Most times they do, but bad law is bad law. Citing the law as a reason something should be illegal is circular.

            “A quick thought experiment: imagine something illegal yet not uncommon that you don’t approve of. Now, imagine it’s beginning to be decriminalized, but the first steps to do so are on similarly shaky ground. Do you care?”

            depends. how does it affect me? does engaging in this action have a high likelihood of harming others?

          • 0 avatar
            chris724

            The law is an ass.

        • 0 avatar
          Detroit-Iron

          I think you need have your sarcasm detector checked.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    The National Traffic Safety Study commissioned a study wherein they strapped all kinds of electrodes on drivers to test their reactions in real time traffic, and then got them wasted on Marijuana.

    The unfortunately conclusion was that Marijuana makes people paranoid, therefore they overcompensate and slow down and drive more cautiously. It also concluded that small amounts of weed have about as much of an effect as ibuprophen.

    Conclusion: They become safer drivers on weed.

    Oops.

    • 0 avatar
      Elena

      Slower does not mean safer. I see a lot of dangerous maneuvers performed at extremely low speed. I don’t do drugs and seldom drink but I don’t know if lawmakers are aware most drivers use some prescription drug and nobody knows how their driving is affected. People take Lunesta to fall asleep, after less than 8 hours some Prozac to start their day. Add a painkiller here or there. Now put a phone in their hands. And… I have yet to see a legal limit to stupidity: Too dumb to drive? Any state?

    • 0 avatar
      daiheadjai

      Yeah, I’m with Elena on this one.
      Slower is not safer at all.
      Every been stuck behind a driver doing 20 below the limit, with nothing in front of them?
      You can’t predict what they will do – are they slowing down because there is something in front? And when someone (almost inevitably) tries to pass them for driving dangerously slow, that creates a chance for collision that wouldn’t have been if the driver adhered to the speed limit/flow of traffic.

      What you posted seems more like an argument against giving pot smokers free rein to drive, rather than an argument for.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    SSDD

  • avatar

    It’s already hard enough for me to drive blacked out SRTs in NYC without being pulled over just for the 70% tints. I’m certainly not going to ever take a chance with illicit substances and driving.

    I’m 32 and never smoked cigarettes or marijuana in my life.
    Been drunk just once and at this point I rarely drink unless I go to D.R or my upcoming vacation in Seychelles.

    Only once Marijuana is legalized will I try it. I just don’t feel like playing games with law enforcement (beyond illegal street racing).

    When I get pulled over, my cars are SUPER CLEAN. I mean- it’s hard to even find dirt in em. Nothing in the pockets or compartments. Pigs just let me go…

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    the nanogram levels are way too low.
    driving and burning one is pretty safe.

    Should all drivers be well-rested and 100% free from all distractions?
    if you answer yes, then you better practice what you preach.

    No screaming kids
    No driving after a horrible night’s sleep
    No eating or drinking
    No audio or visual distractions
    No Smoking
    No booger checking in the rear view
    hands at 10 and 2

    My point is being stoned is less dangerous than a sober driver who has little understanding of the physics of their automobile.

    Can someone be too stoned to drive? Probably, but the current leves picked for impairment do seem more suited to writing tickets than improving public safety.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      good points. But how would you regualte all this? And all these distractions are in addition to being stoned.

      You can’t justify one negelct with anohter. I think the stoners made big progress already:
      - weed legalized in those states (so they can use it anywhere they want)
      - weed has at least some legal limit for driving (the legislature could have set a zero limit)

      I persoanlly would prefer lower limits (also for alcohol) than we have now. The US has a very high percentage of people killed by drunk drivers (due to lax alscohol driving laws compared to other OECD countries). Let’s not repeat this with stoned drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Sloan nailed it. Clearly, there needs to be some standard, but that standard needs to be based on science. The “new smokers” are affected at lower levels is all well and good, but the same applies to pretty much any substance. This limit was selected so as to make MONEY, just like most of the variables in driving, like speed. First and foremost, can industry and government extract money out of the sheep. Cloak it in the “Think of the CHILDREN” and the meek out there suddenly are in agreement. Even though those people are likely not driving well rested, with no phone, and maxing at the limit.

        Lowering the alcohol limits was another grab at cash and child-saving, and maybe some will skip that second drink at a wedding. But the fact is that most of those gory, blood splattered alcohol crashes are NOT caused by a couple on the way home from a wedding or a party, but by alcoholics (functioning or otherwise) and repeat offenders. Focusing on the very moderate drinkers while not stopping the habitual offender is offensive. Resources should go to where the problem is biggest, not where the well of cash is deepest. And I have no love of drinking either, seeing the effect of too much drinking too close to home….when you get right down to it, texting is likely far more dangerous than a joint. At least stoned you are still looking at the road, not staring at a screen for 25 seconds, oblivious to your surroundings.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      “Can someone be too stoned to drive? Probably.”

      Agreed. Also, can someone be too hopped up on caffeine to drive? Just as much as with pot I’d wager.
      It comes down to a matter of people who don’t want it legal will do whatever they can to keep it illegal.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    I’ll wager the US has higher alcohol related accidents because there is less use of public transportation.

    The best way to determine proper impairment levels is with real SCIENTIFIC testing, not arbitrary numbers introduced by square politicos appeasing elderly voters in their districts.

    i have been driving stoned since i was a teenager. That is not bragidoccio, but a simple fact. I would not say that i am a MORE safer driver stoned but anecdotaly i have never been in any accidents stoned. (The only wreck i ever caused was a rear-ender on a freeway off ramp and i was stone-cold sober)

    When i see impairment levels for alcohol go down but alcohol related fatalities remain unchanged I know the law is a ruse.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Most other countries have:
      - zero (Poland, France, Scandinavia) or lower (0.05% Germany) blood alcohol levels
      - random sobriety check points (no reasonable suspicion required)
      - take your license away at first offense (no occupational permit available) and for longer. If you drive above the limit, you are a pedestrian for a year easily.

      Those are the reasons the US has higher alcohol related accidents per mile drive. Drinking is a generally accepted behavior, and enforcement is not too harsh.

      This is surprising since every other crime is prosecuted much harder in the US than elsewhere. someone has a good lobby (tavern league, breweries etc.)

      “i have been driving stoned since i was a teenager.”
      I have robbed bancks and never go caught, does that mean robbing banks should be OK too?

      I hope you don’t kill someone… people like you are the reason why this should be enforced.

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      My city has a free drunk bus that is sponsored by the bars that has been very full. How many people did that take off the road is anyone’s guess but people use it. The other problem is if the person has a DUI and loses their license I will bet you they will drive anyway if they don’t have another reasonable option. That is where the fun starts as they now won’t have any insurance and likely no assets to take when they cripple someone.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    “I hope you don’t kill someone… people like you are the reason why this should be enforced.”

    Hey, I don’t want to kill anyone. Ever.

    I am giving you my experience with weed and driving. It’s not dangerous, at least not any more dangerous than trying to eat and drive or playing the radio and driving, but you seem to think that eating and radios are ok.

    That’s intellectually bankrupt.

    Also saying that you have been robbing banks since you were a teenager is a horrible tactic. It is irrellevent. Robbing banks is a crime that hurts others, driving stoned safely for 20 years hurts no one.

    Like i said, does it make me a more safer driver? maybe not, but you are likely not a more safer driver because you eat in your car, or yell at your kids or do any number of other dictracting things.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      there are millions of examples of people driving drunk and not causing accidents. should we legalize driving drunk (let’s say 0.3% as the new limit)?

      There is always one person who didn’t casue an accident being drunk, stoned or imapaired otherwise.

      There probably has been at least one airplane pilot flying the plan drunk while not crashing it. Do you now propose you want to get onboard of the plane if the pilot could legally drink becasue of that one anecdotal evidence that drinking and flying is safe?

      The one committing the crime (drunk or stoned driving is a crime) always thinks the law is too harsh. Every pedophile says sex with children should be legal, every stoner says weed should be legal, every thief says stealing should be legal…..

      you as a stoner don’t really have an argument since you are biased. this is the reason why other people make the rules. We don’t let prison inmates vote on early release programs…

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’m sure you think that everyone who looks like a drug dealer should be stopped and frisked, too. Can’t run the risk.

      • 0 avatar
        tinbad

        Your ignorance is absolutely astonishing, as is the amount of bile excreting from your comment. How can you say anything about how it impairs ones driving if you haven’t used THC even once? Tons of research has been done (including in the article above) and it all concludes that driving under influence of THC is safe up to (and over) 9 times the proposed, and passed, legal limit in CO and WA.

        It also concludes that traces of THC stored in fat can be exceeding the limit, even if it was months or even years after you’ve consumed it. And this is the dangerous part of the assumption because, unlike alcohol, THC doesn’t break down as fast as it’s effects disappear. This means that somebody who used THC a month ago and was perfectly clear and able to drive safely after a couple of hours, could still be prosecuted under this new law. I’ve seen my fair share of crazy things, but that somehow, a month after smoking a joint, you would still be somehow impaired by it? That’s just plain bull.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        With all due respect, your comment reflects a rather absolutist attitude based on less than complete knowledge, and based on highly unlikely extreme hypothetical situations.
        I would suspect you might buy quickly into the “if it saves just one life, it is worth it” kind of argument.

        But then, maybe you just lit a big blunt and are experiencing a little paranoia? :)

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        Who are “the stoners?” Is this anyone who’s ever smoked pot? Sounds like it since you’re openly saying that negligible traces should disqualify one from ever driving. Hope you’ve never tasted a beer, else you’re a raging alcoholic.

        “you as a stoner don’t really have an argument since you are biased.”

        And you don’t really have an argument because you don’t seem to have much knowledge, experience or a perspective that could be based on either.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “driving stoned safely for 20 years hurts no one.”

      “Driving stoned safely” is an oxymoron.

      The problem with addicts and alcoholics is that they will rationalize anything in the name of defending their habits. They can’t be trusted because they will prioritize their preferred substances above everyone else.

      • 0 avatar
        mr.cranky

        @Pch101- Do you say this as someone who has driven stoned or someone who thinks that they know it all?

        Because we quite a panel of nanny-state naysayers in this thread alone. Moralists too.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    Also, Have you ever fell asleep behind the wheel?
    That is exponentially more dangerous than a stoned driver. Where is you heavy-handed enforcement on sleepy drivers?

    …right, you will do nothing about tired motorists, but you will get indignant over someone using a drug you seem to have little understanding of.

    and enforcement of drivers jittery on caffeine? How about prescription medications? Do we need random check points for drivers returning from the dentist office?

    the argument that Europe has tight alcohol laws does not invalidate my argument that when the DUI limit here in WA went from .1 to .08 there was NO change in DUI fatalities, but there was a spike in DUI arrests.

    The law was a ruse, not made to improve public safety but to create revenue.

  • avatar
    Kinosh

    One huge issue is that THC stays in fat cells and slowly gets leached out. This leads to one-time use being detectable via drug tests for a week or more (and no, just because it’s detectable doesn’t mean you’re impaired).

    This issue won’t be readily solved until a standardized method of testing is implemented. Preferably something with a correlation to time of last use and estimated impairment (saliva test or similar).

    It’s the same issue that allows one to be a functioning alcoholic and pass a drug screen vs someone who smokes marijuana being unable to pass a blood/urine test for a week or more or a hair test for up to 90 days.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      You speak the truth, that is how the test needs to function. However, that will cost money to establish, and will gore the cash cow. Can’t have that, now can we. Not gonna happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “This issue won’t be readily solved until a standardized method of testing is implemented. Preferably something with a correlation to time of last use and estimated impairment (saliva test or similar).”

      As far as I know, there is no reliable way to use saliva, blood or urine tests to measure marijuana impairment. There may not be an easy answer for this one.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    We are treated to propaganda about the health benefits of pot, the harmless fun it provides and all the wonderful savings on law enforcement we will enjoy by legalizing it. Driving around stoned is another casualty of the movement to mainstream drugs in America.

    When a stoned driver takes someone you care about you will have to ask the government why it happened.

    • 0 avatar
      tinbad

      You should try using some THC. It will help you relax and possibly make those voices inside your head go away.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      News flash: Tons of people drive really baked every single day. Around you and the ones you love, even.

      If you didn’t already know it, you probably never would have. Next time you see someone driving like they’re “high,” you let us know. I bet they’ll just be talking on the phone.

      As for the “movement to mainstream drugs,” the dangerous substances for which there are lobbying groups have been mainstream for quite some time, not sure why this is suddenly a concern… is it because you associate pot with those damn dirty hippies you just can’t stand?

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      With all due respect, lots of people are “taken” every day by all sorts of malfeasance. It appears here you chose to single out “stoners”
      Open mindedness is a connector to reality. Try it.

    • 0 avatar
      mr.cranky

      Wow. What a bunch of squares that know jack-all about marijuana.

      People drive impaired on prescription drugs every single day. Do you propose that we pull over and test every single person on such drugs?

  • avatar

    Slight return? What is this a bad Hendrix cover?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The crime is that pot was ever criminalized and alcohol basically promoted/endorsed. And all the lives that have been destroyed in association with alcohol. I’m not saying alcohol consumption should be/should have been banned, but the simple truth is that one is more likely to cause violence and violent accidents and the other mostly makes you want to ride the couch and order pizza.

    The biggest difference is when you’re stoned, you don’t necessarily want to drive and more importantly, you know when you’re way too stoned to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Larry P2

      DenverMike,

      Marijuana was made a crime in the 1930′s for purely racist reasons. The Drug Czar was a guy by the name of Henry Anslinger, who went before Congress and argued that marijuana turns nigg__s into rapists and Mexicans into loafers.

      The modern War on Drugs, featuring the biggest mass imprisonment in the world, was born one night while Richard Nixon and Art Linkletter were sitting around drunk on their a$$es, discussing Linkletter’s daughter’s death at the hands of the Jew drug fiends (notwithstanding the autopsy proved that she had no drugs in her system and that it was probably a suicide). They concluded that they could resolve the Jew/fag/degenerate hippy problem with a War on Drugs.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    “The biggest difference is when you’re stoned, you don’t necessarily want to drive and more importantly, you know when you’re way too stoned to drive.”

    That is so true. And I’ve even go as far to say when you are stoned you not only not necessarily want to drive, but you actually don’t drive. And when you’re too stoned to drive, you’re probably more capable of driving than you thought.

    While it’s been years if not at least a decade since I’ve smoked last, I remember on several occasions thinking I was way to high to drive, only to realize once actually just getting off the couch and stepping outside for some fresh air that I really wasn’t even stoned any longer.

    Although I have no idea what 5ng/mL blood really means, it’s too low. Is that equal to one small bong hit? One huge bong hit? Two puffs on a joint of medium grade pot? An entire joint of crappy mexican shake?

    At the very least with alcohol, I know it takes my body approximately one hour to metabolize a single drink. So that makes it easy to know that if I have two drinks, and 2 hours have passed I’m probably not getting a DUI if pulled over.

    The 5ng/mL needs to reflect reality, and it clearly doesn’t.

  • avatar

    I am going to sell everything I own, move to Colorado, track down Addy, and give her everything she wants, for the rest of my life.

  • avatar
    redav

    ‘Safe’ driving is not merely the physical ability to perform the action, but also the good judgment of how to act (quickly) in hazardous situations. I am not convinced the simulators adequately test that.

    Considering that being ‘stoned’ is by definition an altered mental state, I have no problem prohibiting stoned driving, regardless of these drivers passing physical ability tests.

    I sympathize with those who desire greater competence of drivers (e.g., graduated licenses, better training, refresher certifications), which is why I also support laws to restrict driving when using substances that alter the functions of the mind. There are plenty of other drugs that presumably do even less yet come with instructions to not drive or use heavy machinery. Even ginseng can impair a driver due to it affecting your eyesight & sensitivity to light; however, even those effects–which directly relate to physical ability–are unlikely to cause a failure of these types of tests.

    I do not believe that driving is such a fundamental right that anyone can do it at any time in any situation. I have had too many friends die in recent years where a driver was impaired (including drowsiness) to be casual with attitudes about safety.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      You are correct, but no one has a fundamental right to stare at hot babes, nice rides or cute puppies while driving along eating their lunch, putting on makeup, changing the CD, reading a billboard, or anything besides eyes on the road, hands at 2 and 10 o’clock, and 100% focused on driving.

    • 0 avatar
      brenschluss

      A smart, healthy young person who smokes pot every day is probably quicker on the draw (while high as the sun) than many people who are on the roads legally: the very elderly, the very tired, the sick-but-still-working. Can’t prohibit those things (not if it needs to pass a vote anyway,) so how else to determine an “appropriate” level of impairment from a particular substance than from a test? If these are the same videos I watched a while ago, I recall reaction time and decision-making tests, not sure how else impairment can be judged.

      Otherwise we could just maintain the status quo, where half the populace drives around high, and the people who aren’t aware of that couldn’t care less.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Smart people don’t smoke pot everyday.

        If you’re getting high everyday, then you aren’t just partying — at that point, you have a problem. It should be possible to get through the day without the need of a mind-altering crutch.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Harsh value judgement, man.

          Do you feel the same way about people who enjoy a beer or smoke cigarettes every day?

          I haven’t made time for recreational drug use in many years, but if someone can function fine every day while using them, I have a hard time caring what they choose to ingest.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s possible to drink without getting drunk.

            In contrast, people smoke pot in order to alter their minds, not just for the taste of it.

            I’m all in favor of decriminalizing pot, but it’s simply dumb to praise the notion of being a stoner.

            If you can’t get through life without a crutch, then you have a problem. Someone who can’t survive a car ride without being tweaked obviously has some issues — at that point, the use is no longer recreational.

            Daily tobacco use is also not a great idea. But surely you must already know that.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Chances are, you’re familiar with at least a few smart folks who’s habits you do not know. You might be very surprised- I certainly have been.

            Whether you think dependence on a substance precludes someone from being generally reasonable or intelligent is a question I won’t touch, but I think you’re probably above that assumption.

            So the root of all this: if someone’s mental state is “impaired” by an immeasurably small amount according to any standard we can find, should they be prevented from driving? They might have all sorts of problems that are leading them to do horrible, illicit drugs every day, but do any of them prevent that person from driving safely?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Spare me. I know more than a few pot smokers.

            It’s not smart to be a stoner, anymore than it’s smart to be a drunk.

            “do any of them prevent that person from driving safely?”

            Driving safety and altered states of consciousness don’t belong together, no. Alcohol may be worse, but that doesn’t justify being stoned behind the wheel.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I’m sure you know a perfect cross section of all walks of life. How else would you know everything?

            So what defines an “altered state of consciousness?” For you personally, and for everyone else? Does a 5 Hour Energy take me too far from “baseline” to drive a car? How about thinking about sex? How about being extremely hungry?

            Unfortunately “consciousness” and “impairment” are not cut and dry subjects at this point; the latter is not a binary state. So, we test for competence while under the influence, and it sounds like folks are uncomfortable with the findings.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “So what defines an ‘altered state of consciousness?’”

            If you haven’t figured that out yet, then there isn’t much point in going to the trouble of getting high.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            I’m afraid you’re out of your element here. Feel free to take some pride in this, if you want.

            It really isn’t much trouble at all to get high. Pretty easy in fact. Its effect on almost all things a person can do, to most who use it daily, are not even as significant as what I’ve mentioned so far, hunger, fatigue, distracting thoughts. Is a good mood an altered state of consciousness? I suppose it is if negative emotions are a person’s default state. But does it mean that person shouldn’t drive?

            As I’m sure you know, virtually everyone responds differently to THC. The folks here espousing zero tolerance, no I wouldn’t trust them to drive high, because clearly they can’t fathom *not* feeling impaired. For others, a huge bong rip probably impairs them as much as a large lunch.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            So driving while stoned is safe because stoners believe that it is. Yeah, that’s certainly a credible argument.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Can you prove that it’s not?

            That’s what these studies and tests are for. Do you just not agree with the results? Do you have a better way of figuring this out?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Given your assertions, I suppose that only drunk drivers are capable of analyzing the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol.
            ___________

            We selected nine studies in the review and meta-analysis. ***Driving under the influence of cannabis was associated with a significantly increased risk of motor vehicle collisions compared with unimpaired driving*** (odds ratio 1.92 (95% confidence interval 1.35 to 2.73); P=0.0003); we noted heterogeneity among the individual study effects (I2=81). Collision risk estimates were higher in case-control studies (2.79 (1.23 to 6.33); P=0.01) and studies of fatal collisions (2.10 (1.31 to 3.36); P=0.002) than in culpability studies (1.65 (1.11 to 2.46); P=0.07) and studies of non-fatal collisions (1.74 (0.88 to 3.46); P=0.11).

            Conclusions Acute cannabis consumption is associated with an increased risk of a motor vehicle crash, especially for fatal collisions.

            http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e536

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            No, because alcohol isn’t marijuana. That’s kind of obvious, right?

            Here’s the thing: Drunk is drunk, pretty much. Little ambiguity remains as to what “drunk” feels like to most people. Yeah, driving drunk is a really bad idea and we all know that. The fact that there’s consensus on this should tell you something.

            Meanwhile, maybe getting high to you means rolling around naked in peach preserves, screaming. In that case, please don’t drive anywhere, for heaven’s sake. Others feel about as much as a cigarette smoker after quick butt.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Upon a quick skim that paper isn’t totally airtight. They ignore whether use is habitual or occasional; Their data is focused on accidents which result in serious injury or death and say, “The influence of cannabis use on the risk of minor collisions remains unclear,” they don’t say whether THC was the only substance involved (or if they do I missed it,) or if these people were just completely ruined on 5 other things and happened to smoke pot too.

            I’ll actually read this later to see if I’m wrong, but suffice to say that reports are conflicting.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Follow the way of the ostrich: When the data says something that we don’t like, then just stick your head in the sand and pretend that the data isn’t of any value.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Bro, it’s your turn to spare me the melodrama. Conflicting data exists on this and that fact that there’s an argument at all should be telling.

            I’m not saying you should go out right now and light up in traffic. In fact I haven’t said much more than that it’s a complicated question that is intensely personal.

  • avatar
    ash78

    The key difference, from lots and lots of personal experience, is whether you’d rather have a bunch of people running red lights or a bunch of people waiting for stop signs to turn green.

    It’s all subjective, including BAC 0.08 — I’m a proponent of allowing people to opt in (at their expense) to testing themselves under controlled circumstances to have their license’s expanded or contracted according to their personal response to drugs. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than arbitrary levels for everyone. Another alternative is to simply have very, very harsh penalties to people once an incident occurs and they’re determined to have substances in their system (above a certain level). No more judgment calls about whether they’re impaired, but throw the book at them when they screw up.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Alcohol convinces people that they are better drivers than they are. Alcohol causes reckless behavior. Drunks drive faster.

    Marijuana convinces people that they are worse drivers than they are. Marijuana causes over-cautious behavior. Potheads drive slower. Or not at all. They stop at yellow lights, use their turn signals too soon, and drive below the speed limit.

    Presently there is a firestorm of controversy over a series of articles in Slate magazine, discussing the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of “date rapes” are fueled by the victim’s alcohol abuse. Not one single word is mentioned about the effect of marijuana on date rape.

    It just never happens.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I assume that they settled on a fixed THC percentage because it’s an objective standard that will hold up better than something vague like “appearance of under the influence”, the only problem is there is little evidence that the standard is correct. I would prefer they came up with a performance-based standard: some test of motor skills/coordination/reflexes that would indicate fitness to drive. Maybe something along the lines of that old electronic “Simon” game, inexpensive, fast, portable, repeatable.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      The conspiracy theorist in me thinks the arbitrarily low limit is, essentially, a backdoor way to recriminalize it. Especially if this gets followed up by increased use of checkpoints.

      Sure, lighting up may still be legal, but if you have to be within walking distance of your employer to be able to smoke and still get to work, it might as well not be for most folks.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    For the overly aggressive people who feel like normal traffic moves in slow motion at all times, a source of relaxation can make them much safer drivers.

  • avatar
    jd418197

    “For the overly aggressive people who feel like normal traffic moves in slow motion at all times, a source of relaxation can make them much safer drivers.”

    Speaking of Colorado . . .


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